Out-patient offers

Psychiatric and psychosomatic out-patient departments

There are out-patient departments at specialist clinics for psychiatry, so-called psychiatric institute out-patient departments (PIA) and psychosomatic out-patient departments at clinics for psychosomatic medicine and psychotherapy. Some of these out-patient departments serve as a first point of contact for the diagnosis and counselling on suitable treatment offers, while others offer treatment themselves.

People treated here are those with mental illnesses who cannot receive treatment from a registered physician or psychotherapist due to the type, severity or duration of their illness or due to a great distance. The out-patient departments offer not only medical services, but also psychological, nursing care, occupational therapy, art and music therapy, movement therapy or social work services. The number and length of appointments as well as the participation in group offers are agreed upon based on the current needs.

Many mental illnesses can be treated both in psychiatric and in psychosomatic out-patient departments. Dementia, alcohol or drug dependency, schizophrenia, delusional disorders, schizoaffective disorders, and manias are generally treated in psychiatric institute out-patient departments and not in psychosomatic out-patient departments.

A list of the Psychiatric institute out-patient departments in Hamburg can be found in the Therapy Guide for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the City of Hamburg from page 126. A list of the psychosomatic out-patient departments can be found from page 139.

Family doctor / General practitioner

A considerable number of persons with mental illness are treated at least at the beginning of their illness, and sometimes over a long period of time, by their family doctor or GP. Reasons for treatment with a GP might be that the patient trusts this doctor, that the general conditions (e.g. waiting times, proximity to home) are better, or that the sufferer shies away from the path to psychiatrists of psychotherapists.

In contrast to psychotherapists, psychiatrists and neurologists, GPs have no specialist training for treating the mentally ill. You can find a GP in your area in the Physician search of the association of statutory health insurance physicians of Hamburg.

Specialist physician (neurology, psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine and psychotherapy)

Following completion of their medical degree, specialist physicians have completed practical and theoretical training in a hospital department over several years. Psychiatrists predominantly complete this training in a psychiatric department, while neurologists have additionally completed neurological training. Psychiatrists predominantly treat with medication, while specialist physicians for psychosomatic medicine and psychotherapy predominantly carry out psychotherapies.

A list of the registered specialist physicians in Hamburg can be found in the Therapy Guide for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the City of Hamburg from page 5. You can also find a specialist physician in your area using the Physician search of the association of statutory health insurance physicians of Hamburg.

Psychological psychotherapist

Psychologists have studied psychology. Psychology literally means "study of the soul" and is the science of the behaviour, thoughts and feelings of a person in different life stages. Psychologists are therefore concerned not only with mental illnesses but also quite generally with the logic of inner human life.

Registered psychologists in their own practice are usually "psychological psychotherapists". This description means that following his degree course, the psychologist completed additional training in psychotherapy lasting for several years and has acquired a licence to practice (state approval) which allows him to carry out psychotherapy in his own practice. The training encompasses practical work in psychiatric and psychosomatic clinics, the carrying out of out-patient psychotherapies as well as extensive theoretical further training programmes.

Psychological psychotherapists do not work with medication but rather with talking therapy. If a medication treatment in addition to the psychotherapy would appear helpful, a physician, generally a psychiatrist, therefore needs to be called in.

A list of the registered psychological psychotherapists in Hamburg can be found in the Therapy Guide for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the City of Hamburg from page 28. You can also find psychotherapists in your area using the search engine Psycho-Info of the Hamburg Chamber of Psychotherapists.

Counselling centres

In counselling centres, social education workers, psychologists or physicians assist those seeking help in numerous ways. Many counselling centres are specialised, for example, in marriage, parenting or family counselling, in addiction counselling or counselling for certain physical illnesses. Other centres provide general advice in life crises. Individual dialogues are offered, often supplemented by information events or open meetings.

Counselling centres can be financed in very different ways, for example through a church or associations. Therefore, in many cases they are oriented towards particular target groups, for example families, women, or homosexuals. Their offer is usually free of charge, but a fee is sometimes charged.

The City of Hamburg runs eight psychosocial contact centres (PSK) which are distributed across the city and are open to all those seeking advice. Their offer is free of charge.

A list of the advice centres in Hamburg can be found in the Therapy Guide for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the City of Hamburg from page 75.

The psychosocial contact centres can be found from page 92.

Special counselling offers for people with eating disorders can be found in the Therapy Guide for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy from page 170, for those at risk of or suffering from addiction from page 144 or also at

Telephone crisis line

Anonymous advice (by telephone, chat and webmail):

24 hours a day, free of charge across the whole of Germany

Tel.: 0800-1110111 or -1110222

Peer counselling – by sufferers for sufferers

In the patient peer counselling, following counsellor training, people with experience of their own psychological crises support fellow sufferers on the road to recovery. The peer counsellors have experience in dealing with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, psychoses, hearing voices, panic attacks, burnout, trauma, borderline etc. They listen to you against the background of their own experience and offer assistance in crisis situations, information on the available self-help and care structures, as well as referral to self-help.

The peer counsellors support you if you:

  • have experience with depression, manias, psychoses, or personality disorders,
  • need more structure in your everyday life,
  • would like to experience support from people who can understand your situation,
  • are seeking advice or want to talk,
  • need orientation guidance,
  • are craving stability.

The counselling is confidential and free of charge, and you determine the frequency and duration. You can be accompanied for up to half a year. You do not need to register in advance.

Day centres

The term "day centre" encompasses different help and treatment offers for people with mental illnesses. In part, they are linked, through advice centres or assisted living facilities, to a social psychiatric centre. In contrast to the day clinic, they are not led by doctors.
The offers differ between day centres and reach from open offers to therapeutic rehabilitation programmes. The target group is people who are not yet or no longer in a position to carry out work, or who are not fulfilled by their home activities and their leisure activities. The day centres offer them an activity as well as supportive psychotherapeutic and occupational therapeutic measures.

As there are day centres with quite different focuses and types of activity, anyone interested should inform themselves in advance by telephone or in person.

A list of the day centres in Hamburg can be found in the Therapy Guide for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the City of Hamburg from page 106.

Social psychiatric service

The social psychiatric service (SpD) is located at the local health authorities in all Hamburg districts. The social psychiatric service offers free-of-charge advice and help for adults with psychological problems, mental illnesses, in acute crisis situations, with thoughts of suicide, addiction problems, age-related psychological disorders and psychological disabilities, and for family members and the social environment. The team consists of physicians, psychologists, social workers and administrative staff.

Advice, referral for help and crisis intervention take place in the respective offices or where necessary also through home visits. In the framework of the guardianship law and social legislation, the employees also act in a counselling, intermediary and expert advisory capacity.

This offer only applies during the opening times of the respective social psychiatric service. In Hamburg, there are seven district authorities and therefore also seven social psychiatric services, which are each responsible for their own district. Your responsible district authority and consequently your responsible social psychiatric service with addresses, telephone numbers and opening times can be found in the Authority finder of the City of Hamburg.

Addresses, telephone numbers and opening times of the social psychiatric services can also be found in the Therapy Guide for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the City of Hamburg from page 86.

Home nursing and care services

Help in the area of home nursing is provided by out-patient care services. They offer a broad range of services which generally encompasses the following areas:

  • Home nursing
  • Home care
  • Household help
  • Social assistance

This also includes work with the family members, who are integrated into the treatment and given relief. The frequency of the visits is oriented towards the needs of the patient and can range from several times a day to once a month.


Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg, Behörde für Gesundheit und Verbraucherschutz (BGV) (Hrsg.) (2011). Therapieführer - Verzeichnis diagnostischer, therapeutischer und rehabilitativer Angebote in Hamburg (17. wiederholt überarbeitete Auflage). Hamburg: Behörde für Gesundheit und Verbraucherschutz (BGV).

Written by:

Nina Weymann (Psychological psychotherapist), Dr. Lisa Tlach (Psychologist), Dr. Jörg Dirmaier (Psychological psychotherapist), Prof. Dr. Dr. Martin Härter (Physician and psychological psychotherapist)

Date of creation: 10.08.2011
Date of last editing of content: 10.06.2015
Date of next editing of content: currently under revision